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Gogo della Luna

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Today a 12 years old has asked me: "A lot of people seem to be very angry. Is anger useful?" This made me think: can anger be positive?

There are some linguistic terms that are born negative but maybe have a tiny streak of positiveness in them. My young friend's question made me wonder...

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    Feb 4 2013: Anger is a powerful emotion and, like all powerful emotions, can block logical or rational thought, which may result in ill-conceived actions and negative outcomes.

    That said, feeling anger or rage should be a signal that we need to look at the source of the anger, determine how valid our emotional response is, and direct our actions accordingly.

    Acting solely from a place of anger is dangerous, but understanding that anger can be a sign that something is really wrong and needs to be corrected is essential.
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    Feb 4 2013: Yes .....when one protests against something unjust , that drive may come from anger...what do you think about that?
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      Feb 4 2013: No, all my protests (if any) come from love: I love something therefore I protest against it's opposite. Anger, like fear, makes me feel alive and that yes, is a positive feeling.
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        Feb 5 2013: Great....you have that control on your emotions to avoid the anger factor and chaannel it as LOVE. Appreciate.

        Referring to the situation mentioned above, people like me who get angry are also not devoid of love factor. They love the victim of the situation , so get angry against the person / organization that is doing the unjust.....
        What about mass public disobedience against tyrrany ?
        What do you think about that ?
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          Feb 5 2013: Well. it really troubles me to feel 'black emotions' so with time I have learned to bring back everything to love which I believe is the most powerful weapon ever.
          AMOR OMNIA VINCIT....
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    Feb 5 2013: It depends on how emotionally intelligent one person is. I mean the person feeling anger. Anger is an emotion and with it comes lot of emotional energy. It can be pretty useful if one can make use of that energy to benefit oneself or other. Tennis players emote anger after every double fault or unfavorable line calls to help themselves to make it correct next time.
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    Feb 4 2013: Anger is just one human emotion; it depends on what one does about it. If one's anger leads to harmful and hateful behaviour, then such anger is undesirable. But there is a certain anger against social ills and evils and bad behaviour that fires a drive for positive change.
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    Feb 4 2013: I will weigh in from my philosophical view point. Two points I would like to make. First I see that good and bad, (positive and negative) are human viewpoints. What is good to one is bad to another.

    Second, Anger from an evolutionary standpoint can be "positive" It was needed to survive and gave a boost of adrenalin to fight off a predator or an enemy. In that case, anger was very positive and perhaps still has a place in this world. However, over the last 5,000-10,000 years our social structure has evolved faster than our genetic structure, so in a society that relies on rules and interactions, anger can be considered negative.

    I believe it still has a place and perhaps will be evolved out of us (or genetically modified out of existence). At the moment it is interesting to watch its uses and I would like to explore what we as a species would agree is a productive use of anger. For example, when the world was made aware of what we happening in Egypt a few years ago we were angry enough to say "this must stop" but we were also calm enough to hold back violence.
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    Feb 7 2013: I'm sure anything could have a positive side. But in general I think anger mostly hurts the angry person. One only gets angry when presented with a problem, but how does being angry help you solve the problem, I cannot see that it does.
  • Feb 5 2013: The problem that I see is that anger usually carries blinders.
  • Feb 5 2013: Very good responses to your profound question!

    I notice a very high percent of TED conversations---questions, ideas, and debate topics involve human relationships. Your 12 year old acquaintance wonders why people are angry. That is a topic for a conversation in itself!! "Can anger be positive?" Yes, if controlled. Righteous indignation is useful when it propels people to act for change for what they see is needed improvement. This can be positive. Self restraint and living a life of masterful modeling moves humankind to higher quality civility. Dangerous anger can take us the opposite direction.

    So a conclusion could be that getting angry over the right things at the right time with enough people can result in positive change. How would we know what is right? Only fools would willingly follow another fool. Therefore discretion, honest assessment, and patience while being angry over a situation or condition would more likely be positive and beneficial. Being a "hot head" leans more to foolishness than righteous respect and measured responses to others involved.

    Keep thinking!
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    Feb 5 2013: Anger, as an emotion, has been dealt by Daniel Goleman at great length which may be useful for many. What I know from my own experience that we can emote both instinctively and as trained reaction to a given situation. Like any other emotion, anger can be directed inward and outward. Inwardly directed anger can help having stronger resolution to achieve a goal and in the process it dissipates without causing harm to anyone.
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    Feb 5 2013: I recognize emotions (including anger) as messages from my body to my being (or vice versa. I'm not really sure which - so perhaps both?). Emotions are like a compass that points to mistakes in my beliefs. When I recognize myself emoting anger, I go someplace quiet and reconnect with my uncorrupted "self". From that place, I explore the beliefs to find the mistake that is causing the pain - and anger is PAINFUL, as are other "emotions".

    I make a BIG distinction between emotions and feelings. Emotions are body-oriented. They produce chemicals that course through our bodies. One who is sad has certain chemicals in tears. One who is anxious is raging cortisol, and if one is afraid, add adrenalin to the mix. Great JOY also has its chemical components.

    Feelings have no chemical counterpart. Feelings are more like a universal language than they are emotion.

    Imagine if anger was used as the tool for personal development that it can be: Something leaves me emoting anger. I go someplace quiet to reconnect with the uncorrupted self. I find the mistake in the beliefs. I remove it. When the belief is discredited, then any situation that WAS based on that mistaken belief (and MANY are) will no longer cause offense. This leaves me investing FAR less energy in being miserable and far more time to invest in satisfying adventures.

    The hardest belief that I had to throw away was the belief that I was powerless and therefore could be victimized.

    Most people have never dared ask themselves about their own anger. They have never personally explored it. What does anger feel like if you allow yourself to experience it (while alone) and then internally observe the experience. I can tell you from experience that it is not a painful experience. It's only painful when fear is involved. Anger is a manifestation of fear.